For approximately the first seven decades in the history of watchmaking exhibitions in Basel, the event was not even open to watchmakers from outside Europe. And two decades since the first “international” exhibition, Basel 86, the stars at the event continue to be watchmakers with centuries-old Swiss traditions. Watchmakers such as Breguet, Ulysse Nardin and Longines can trace their origins back to the early 1800s and beyond. And between them, these traditional watchmakers account for many inventions and innovations in mechanical watchmaking.
Yet at BaselWorld 2010, two Japanese watchmakers not only found themselves among the legends in Hall 1.0, reserved for only the biggest names in the business, but they also announced several high-quality products.
The year holds special significance for Seiko, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the launch of the world’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz Astron. The company commemorated this occasion by unveiling a new special, limited-edition Quartz Astron. The timepiece houses an advanced 9F62 quartz calibre which makes it more reliable and accurate to within 10 seconds over a year. Only 200 pieces of this special piece will be made.
Get set go: Seiko’s new Sportura with skeleton style dial.
In addition to the new Quartz Astron, Seiko announced several new models in the Ananta, Sportura, Velatura and Premier lines.
A key innovation for this year was a watch with an electrophoretic display that uses the same technology as popular e-book readers. Seiko’s key innovation here has been to make the screen consume just 1% of the power of comparable screens in use today. A prototype of the watch was presented in Basel.
Across the hall, Citizen also shone with two conceptual timepieces that used the company’s signature Eco-Drive technology to stunning effect.
Illusion: Citizen’s Eco-Drive LOOP has a second hand that wraps around the face.
Eco-Drive is Citizen’s popular technology that power watches based on any light source, anywhere. Over the years Citizen has been able to build the Eco-Drive system into almost every part of the watch face. At Basel this year, Citizen showcased the Eco-Drive LOOP and the Eco-Drive EYES.
The LOOP ingeniously combines the Eco-Drive technology with inventive design to create a face that floats and a second hand that loops entirely around the face from the front to the back of the watch.
The stylistic element of the EYES concept is the play of light and shadow through the watch. Visual texture is achieved through the use of a layered, pure white dial. And the Eco-Drive cell is built into the outer edge of the dial.
In addition to these concepts, Citizen also announced that the Eco-Drive DOME concept unveiled last year would go into limited production of only 500 pieces.
Both Japanese watchmakers impressed at BaselWorld 2010 with concept devices and line extensions.